1. Published

    Are you sketching in your journal? If not, maybe you should be. I know, you are thinking to yourself, “But I can’t draw.” Or “I can’t even do a stick figure.” Am I right? Whether you are good or bad at sketching is beside the point. The important part is the act of drawing, itself.

    Drawing is good for you. It is exercise for the eyes, hands and mind and it can be a form of visual thinking, an outlet for emotions, and a record of a moment in time.

  2. Published

    By Rose Moore

    Master Naturalist – January 2020

    One of the greatest pleasures I have in my daily outdoor adventures is discovering new things.

    Just because it is winter, there is no absence of wonders to be found.

    Recently, on a mild, snow - less morning, I decided to veer off my usual trails and search for signs of life in other areas of the property.

  3. Published

    January is often the coldest and snowiest month of the year here in the Midwest. And sometimes it really is too cold to go out in the elements. Yes, I know last month I encouraged you to get outside but that was December and this is January and it’s a whole new kind of cold. So how do you keep your nature journaling going during this long frigid month? It’s easy when you remember four simple words…”Look out the window.”

  4. Published


    By Cindy Owsley


    not really cold

    not really warm

     ….. really dark


    first October swim

    I can’t see but

    memory guides me


    floating plants tickle

    feet squish in mud

    a fish flips


    Owl hoo-ahs

    Katydids katydid

    Coyotes yip


    cabin lights a return

    a dry towel

    invigorates me


    my pond is quiet

    my pond is noisy

    my pond is dark

  5. Published

    Winter is my least favorite season. In fact, I would go as far as to say I really rather dislike it. The cold, bitter winds and snow are just not my thing. So you might think this month I would just say, “Stay inside. Don’t nature journal.” You would be mistaken. You see, while I dislike almost everything about winter, it has provided some of my best memories of nature. One of them, I share with you today.

  6. Published

    What are a few of the exceptional moments in your life? If you are like most people, you might recount the birth of a child, a promotion or wedding. But what about a moment from yesterday? Probably not on your list, right?

    The unfortunate reality is that we miss exceptional moments every day. We are so busy going from activity to activity we miss what is right there in front of us. Nature provides wonder every day if we just take the time to observe. And our nature journals can be the key to unlocking and remembering these moments we might otherwise miss.

  7. Published

    How many of you, growing up, sat under a tree? Hid under a bush? When I was a young girl, with three, count them three younger sisters who annoyed me constantly, I would escape into the woods surrounding my home. Once there I would lean back against my favorite tree and simply sit and watch. Well at first, I might have grumbled about whatever sister most recently annoyed me but inevitably I would end up just sitting and watching. Little did I know then that what I was doing was visiting my “sit spot”.

  8. Published

    The heat and humidity are now in full force but you want to continue using your journal (you did start one last month, didn't you?). August is a great time to get out and practice your observation skills. Just maybe not in the heat of the day. I am sure that many of us think that observing just entails going out and looking around. I know that is what I used to think. But there is more to observing nature than meets the eye. (Pun intended) This month try practicing your "intentional curiosity".

  9. Published

    First, a quick definition of a nature journal. Similar to a personal diary, a nature journal is a place to record our observations and to reflect upon them, but unlike a diary, a nature journal is used specifically to record our observations of, and thoughts on, nature. But a funny thing may happen, you may also learn more about yourself in the process.

    These journals contain notes on weather conditions, place, observations as well as sketches of what is observed and any reflections you wish to include. All you need is a blank journal and a pen or pencil to get started.

  10. Published

    Since becoming a Master Naturalist, hardly a day goes by when I don't think of how my life affects the environment around me.

  11. Published

    By Cindy Owsley

    Sitting in my rocking chair
    in front of an expanse of glass
    that looks out into the woods.

    A thermal cup with hazelnut coffee
    much too weak, white and sweet
    for a true connoisseur.

    My calico companion sits on the sill
    with an enthusiasm equal to
    but much different than mine.

    I suspect she imagines herself as
    a much more integral part of this
    February ritual than do I.

  12. Published


    By Cindy Owsley

    The need to be alone nearly equaled

    the need for a close friend's hug

    and so it seems that inertia prevailed.


    I packed multiple armloads of hackberry

    all split and dried into the cold cabin

    and started a fire in the woodstove.


    It was seasonably warm for late February

    but the frozen ground held the snowmelt

    in squishy puddles that soaked my boots.


    The binoculars that dangled from my neck

  13. Published

    For many years now, it has been a regular routine of mine to walk the many trails on our property on a daily basis. It doesn't matter what the time of year. In the depths of winter and height of summer, these trails reveal nature's wonders to me at all times.

  14. Published

    The year is coming to a close now and outdoor tasks are winding down as cooler weather moves in. The summer birds have gone to their winter homes and the chickadees, juncos, woodpeckers, and cardinals dominate the bird feeders. I delight in seeing these birds as much as their summer counterparts. My morning walks bring different experiences in the world that has changed its colors now.As the leaves fell and the chill came many creatures were busier than ever preparing for the long winter months.

  15. Published

    Autumn is a magical time of the year. Suddenly, as the air becomes crisp, the trees and other vegetation take on new and brilliant colors previously hidden in a green haze.

    It is one of my favorite times of the year. Even though it means an eventual end to the growing season, it still holds many surprises and rewards for a gardener.

  16. Published

    Most of the time, while doing my daily walks, I will be observing things from my height and perspective which is pretty close to the ground. However, many surprises have occurred to me over the last year because I have on occasion – looked up!

    Each day I have my binoculars handy in case I hear or see something that is unfamiliar. Always on the lookout for a glimpse of the wildlife. Often when I am not prepared special things happen.

  17. Published

    Stepping out of my street clothes

    Into the not quite warm enough water

    Of the frog people who sang of desire

    In the unique way of their kin.


    The Chorus Frogs

    The Bull Frogs

    The Leopard Frogs

    The Green Frogs


    Others competing for the attention

    Of a lady, perhaps seen, perhaps not.

    The persistent songs shattering the

    Quiet and calling others for back up.


    The Barred Owl

    The Coyote

    The Crickets

    The Katydid


  18. Published

    When we think of the outdoors and the sounds we hear around us, the first thing that usually comes to mind are the birds and their songs. Of course, we delight in hearing these wonderful songs. However, there is much more out there to hear and learn about. Over the course of time, I have become familiar with some of these other sounds and the habits of the creatures that create them.

  19. Published

    Over the years, I have tried to provide good habitats for the animals that live alongside me on this land. Despite my efforts though it seems that some of these creatures prefer to dwell in or on the house that I built for myself! They must find it as comfortable as I do.

  20. Published

    Tucked into a corner of my house on a gravelly hill, is a small shrub planted several years ago when I first arrived in Knox County.

    This shrub is known as Clove Current or Ribes odoratum and it certainly lives up to its description! About this time every spring, it's spicy fragrance becomes quite noticeable. Bearing yellow tubular flowers along the length of its stems, it perfumes the springtime air like no other plant. An irregular growing shrub, it stands at about 5 feet tall and has a suckering habit but flowers quite abundantly on all branches.